Chef Josef Centeno's half-revival of his Ledlow space (literally splitting his restaurant in half and adding a partition to make P.Y.T.), this is his Vegetable-centric restaurant, with mainly Vegetarian and Vegan options, but with some meat options as well (which feels a bit half-hearted in the focus of the restaurant).
P.Y.T. Bloody Mary (Tomato Juice, Tabasco, Vinegar, Horseradish, Cucumber):
I love a good Bloody Mary, and while this tasted pretty fresh, it also had about 300% of the amount of Horseradish of a normal Bloody Mary(!). The first sip slapped me in the face, and cleared out my sinuses, LOL. I had to take baby sips to not get overwhelmed by the fierceness of the Horseradish.
Amuse Bouche - Roasted Sprouting Broccoli:
This complementary opener was vibrant, just tender enough while still having enough body, and perfectly seasoned, lightly spicy, just a tease of Salt, and sadly, the 2nd best dish we had.
Chef's Salad with LALA Farm Lettuces, Daily Selection of Vegetables (Swiss Chard, Watermelon Radish, Strawberries, Shishito Peppers, Green Beans, Snap Peas, Oroblanco Grapefruit), Carrot Fava Hummus:
I love exploring farmers market fresh Vegetables, but this Chef's Salad felt like it was literally the "kitchen sink" of random items thrown together from a walk at the farmers market: Everything was disparate, tasting of its individual components only.
You tasted Raw Swiss Chard, Lettuce, suddenly the Spring-like snap from the Snap Peas and the crunch from the Green Beans. But they were all separate. The Strawberry slivers clashed with the Shishito Peppers (it was kind of offputting).
It didn't help that their "dressing" for the Salad was just Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper. The Carrot Fava Hummus was served on the side (really thick), to "dip" some of the veggies into.
Toasted Brioche with Fried Egg & Fontina:
I had heard good things about this from a friend. Sadly, the Brioche was really dried out. The Fried Egg and Fontina were delicious, but marred by really dry Brioche.
Avocado Toast with Brebirousse d'Argental Sheep's Milk Brie:
This was one of the saddest Avocado Toasts we've ever had: Burnt Bread, extremely bland Avocado (unripened), with a strange clash with Strawberry slivers, and slightly bitter Greens. Not sure what the intent was for this dish, but it was really disappointing.
Green Piri-Piri Rice with Over-Easy Egg (Lime Zest, Soft Herbs):
This was the best dish of the day, and thankfully partially redeemed Brunch: A wonderful, zesty, spicy dish, the Rice coated with Piri-Piri Sauce tasted lemony, garlicky, with some Paprika and some type of Chili heat as well. It was really delicious!
We were really looking forward to seeing how Chef Centeno could celebrate Vegetables and make them sing. Sadly, there were more misses than hits, with a spice mixture Rice dish (with Egg) being the best dish we tried. We still want to go back for Dinner one of these days to see how those dishes turn out and give them another chance, but after this Brunch, we're in no hurry to go back.
400 S. Main St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Tel: (213) 687-7015
We had seen the Eater news about a famous chef from Mexico, Chef Diego Hernandez, opening up a restaurant in L.A. We were hoping that this might be a legit entry for Baja Med cuisine or a great Alta Cocina restaurant, and we couldn't wait to try it.
Walking in, and the decor was extremely clean and pristine-looking, but the vibe felt more like a pretentious spa / club than anything:
Still, we kept our hopes up and couldn't wait to try Chef Hernandez' cooking.
We knew something was wrong when I asked our server if Chef Diego Hernandez was in the house on our visit, and the server responded nervously, "Ah, sorry, he flew back to Mexico already." (It had been only 1 week from the Grand Opening. The Chef really couldn't stay or see how his restaurant was doing for more than 1 week? )
It got worse when we then asked who the Chef de Cuisine was. The server said, "Oh, uh, I don't know the chef's name this evening..."
Rock Cod Ceviche (Tostada, Avocado, Mayo):
This Ceviche was the only thing that tasted even remotely like the flavors of Mexico on this evening. Sadly, the Ceviche was more mushy than anything else. There was no brightness, nothing making the Rock Cod standout. I'm not joking when I say that this was one of the most unmemorable Ceviche that we've ever had.
Mixed Green Salad (Lavender Vinaigrette, Fennel Seed Meringue):
This just looked pretentious and so precious (the actual amount of Mixed Greens was paltry, less than a "Side Salad" at most mainstream places). It was just "propped up" with plenty of air between the leaves. The "Lavender Vinaigrette" tasted like Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper (with no Lavender to taste at all).
The Fennel Seed Meringue were those shiny, chunky pieces of Candy! It was so full of Sugar and sweet, it was like eating bits of Hard Sugar Candy. Which made this "Salad" really gross (Mixed Greens with Sugar).
How was this Baja Med or Alta Cocina, I have no idea.
Grilled Half Dozen Oysters (Fresh Sage, Warm Butter, Lemon):
This tasted like mediocre Grilled Oysters with some Butter. That was it. The worst part was that they couldn't even shuck the Oysters properly, as there were a lot of bits of Oyster Shell in every Oyster!
Chochoyotes (Chichilo Negro, Pickled Pig Trotter):
Our server tried to make this dish sound really exotic, mentioning to us, "If you feel courageous, try our Chochoyotes! It's Pig Trotters!" As if Pig Trotters were some exotic offering in a city as diverse as L.A.?
Either way, we definitely wanted to see what Chef Hernandez' recipe might be and how the kitchen staff might prepare Pig Trotters.
This was simply awful!
Imagine chewy, dense, rubbery balls of Masa Dough, covered in the most watery, insipid "Mole Sauce" with no Pig Trotters in the dish at all(!), and you have Verlaine's "courageous dish".
It tasted like you were chewing on Rubber Bands. We broke apart the Masa Balls, and there was no Pork inside. We looked carefully throughout the dish and there was literally No Pig Trotters anywhere. Maybe it "melted" into the watery Mole Sauce? Regardless, this was pretty awful.
Snapper (Ash Crust, Spinach Chilpete, Swiss Chard Stem, Guisado, Russian Kale, Preserved Lemon):
Another dish that sounded great on paper. At this point we were desperately hoping for any dish that had good flavor.
The Snapper was not it.
Imagine a "Grilled Snapper" dish at any mediocre Hotel Restaurant that you might've experienced while traveling, and you have Verlaine's Snapper dish. The Snapper was mushy, and overcooked on the edges.
It literally tasted like a typical American Salt, Pepper, and Lemon Grilled Fish. (and not fresh, either.)
Service was pretty abysmal: We had 2 plates with food crusted on them, and when we pointed it out to the server, their response? "Oh... be right back." No apology, nothing. Just bringing out a clean plate (thankfully).
With competition as fierce as it is in the City of Angels, why do Chefs and Restaurant Groups think they can just show up and pull a "bait and switch" and leave the restaurant & kitchen in the hands of clearly suspect, improperly trained staff?
@Sgee @Ns1 @PorkyBelly and others here can clearly remember how many bait and switch scams we've had with just Ramen shops, let alone bigger, grander debuts like this. The "Star Chef" shows up for the Grand Opening and then bails on the restaurant a few weeks later. In the case of Verlaine, Chef Diego Hernandez couldn't even wait 1 week before leaving and flying back to Mexico?!
And that's fine if he's busy, but at least create a menu that has real flavor to it. Besides the Ceviche, nothing tasted inspired, or anything remotely "Mexican" / "Alta Cocina" or "Baja Med." It tasted like we were eating a bad American Hotel Restaurant (Grilled Oysters, Snapper, Salad).
Normally we'd try and give a restaurant another try later, but this was so bad and uninspired, we won't be back. This ran about $50+ per person and we left hungry.
8715 Beverly Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90048
Tel: (424) 288 4621